Thanks to their spectacular run at this summer’s Women’s EUROs in England, where they finished as runners-up, Germany’s women’s national team were able to win the hearts of thousands of football fans. Nearly 18 million people tuned in to watch the tournament final and this wave of support has since drawn record crowds in the FLYERALARM Frauen-Bundesliga this season, along with a new TV rights contract and an increase in sign-ups at the amateur level. In our end of the year interview, head coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg sat down with DFB.de to talk about her favourite memories from this past year, what the team hopes to accomplish at the World Cup and her hopes for 2023.
DFB.de: Mrs. Voss-Tecklenburg, a memorable year is drawing to a close in which women’s football has enjoyed a meteoric rise. What feelings come to mind when you look back on 2022?
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg: I feel overwhelmingly positive when looking back. The EUROs were a great tournament for us. The best thing is that the tournament has had such a massive impact at every level. We never could have imagined anything like this would happen before the tournament got underway.
DFB.de: What was your favourite memory from this past year?
Voss-Tecklenburg: On a personal level, it was welcoming my granddaughter to the world.
DFB.de: And if we’re talking about football, was it playing in a EURO final in front of 90,000 fans at Wembley, or the warm welcome the team received at the Römer in Frankfurt following their return?
Voss-Tecklenburg: Unfortunately, the final didn’t have the right ending in order for me to say that it was my favourite moment of the year. At the same time, it was also one of the hardest. For that reason it would have to be the reception we received in Frankfurt. To have that many fans show up to celebrate us, even after we’d lost the final, was something we didn’t expect and it really touched all of us. The best thing has been to see the impact the EUROs have had — seeing the rise in attendance in the FLYERALARM Frauen-Bundesliga and Women’s Champions League, the incredible crowd at our game in Dresden, as well as the increase in boys and girls signing up to play football.
DFB.de: There’s also a new television rights deal for the FLYERALARM Frauen-Bundesliga, which will usher in a new economic era for the league. What evidence points towards it having a lasting impact?
Voss-Tecklenburg: There’s plenty of positives. We play good football and I’m convinced that the Frauen-Bundesliga will continue to become more professional. It will also depend on how well we perform as a national team. We will have many great games coming up next year against exciting opponents. We want to deliver strong performances in order to prove that we want to be amongst those teams competing to lift the World Cup. I think that people will continue to follow our team even after the EUROs. We have kick-started a movement, and have taken a step forward.
DFB.de: You said the EUROs were “a European championship full of superlatives.” Why is that?
Voss-Tecklenburg: England is the birthplace of football. Every game drew incredible crowds and the fans really wanted to cheer on the teams. England also did a great job of advertising, promoting and attracting fans. In terms of the level of competitiveness, I think this was the best it’s ever been at a women’s football tournament. That’s why this tournament had so many superlatives for me. There was an increase in viewership around the world and more attention paid to the EUROs. That was reflected in the TV ratings, as well as in the reaction from the media, sponsors and the fans.
DFB.de: Speaking of TV rating, a total of 17.9 million people watched the final in Germany — the highest ratings of any sporting event shown on German TV this year. Are you proud to be top of the TV ratings list?
Voss-Tecklenburg: I’m proud of everyone who tuned in and made this possible (laughs). It just goes to prove once again that the market exists. We played extremely well and were able to excite the fans. To have drawn the highest ratings of any sporting event this year is great proof that we have been able to connect with people on an emotional level during the tournament, like we had set out to do. It’s nice to have been rewarded with such incredible viewership numbers.
DFB.de: Will you turn the page on the chapter about the EUROs at thee end of the year, or will you continue to write more to this story in 2023?
Voss-Tecklenburg: Both. On the one hand, you do put this chapter behind you a bit because you have new challenges and different opponents waiting for you. The World Cup in Australia and New Zealand will be a completely different tournament to the EUROs. We will still use this experience as the basis for our analysis and to help further our development, but also to back up the confidence we have in ourselves. We played extremely well, but our mission isn’t over yet. The EUROs, even despite the defeat in the final, will of course still be relevant in order to help with our growth as a team.
DFB.de: Last time out, you played two games against current world champions USA (Editor’s note: a 2-1 win and a 2-1 defeat). However, you think there are a larger range of teams in contention to win the World Cup. Which teams would you say are favourites?
Voss-Tecklenburg: Alongside the European teams who were the favourites for the European Championships, the USA are also up there. I also think that Brazil will play a big role; they have a good coach and they’ve developed a lot in many areas of their game. It will be interesting to see how Japan do, even if they haven’t had a lot of good results recently. There will maybe be a surprise from an African side, too.
DFB.de: When will you begin your preparations for the World Cup and what will the focus be?
Voss-Tecklenburg: We’ll begin with a training camp in Marbella in February. We chose to do a training camp rather than a tournament in order to have a good balance of a lot of training time, good conditions and finally a friendly in Germany. That game will take place in my hometown, Duisburg, and we’ll take on Sweden. We’re looking forward to it. After that, we’ll have friendlies in April and July before our final preparations ahead of the World Cup.
DFB.de: Is it special for you to kick off a World Cup year with a game in your home town of Duisburg?
Voss-Tecklenburg: Of course, it’s a nice feeling to be back in a place where you know a lot of people, whether you’re part of the playing squad or the coaching team. I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully the people of Duisburg will be saying, ‘we’ll go down to watch; Martina is one of us!’ (laughs). I hope a lot of people will come to the game. The best scenario would be a sold-out stadium – that would be really cool!
DFB.de: What are your goals heading into the World Cup year?
Voss-Tecklenburg: We want to be in contention to lift the trophy. We managed to do that at the EUROs when we reached the final. We didn’t win it. Obviously, we want to go to the World Cup to win it. That’s something we can work towards with an offensive style. We’re well aware that it will be difficult and that a lot of teams are in with a good chance – there’s no doubt about it.
DFB.de: There’s a new competition in store for your in autumn 2023 with the UEFA Nations League.
Voss-Tecklenburg: Correct. I’m excited for it. We need fixtures at this level in order to develop consistently. Playing games and being tested in the Nations League is different to playing qualification games with a different standard of competition, so we’re looking forward to a new format of competition. At the same time, it will be a challenge because managing our workload will be more difficult. We’ll profit from the experience that we build up, overall, I think it’s a good format.
DFB.de: Currently, we’re about to enter the New Year. As national team head coach, is it an opportunity for you to recharge your batteries?
Voss-Tecklenburg: Yeah, you have to take time for yourself. I really enjoyed spending the holidays with my family and now I’ll go on holiday with my husband. We’ll read some good books, sleep, eat, wander around and take in some sun. Then, by mid-January, we’ll be ready for what 2023 has in store for us.
DFB.de: In terms of football, what do Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s new year’s resolutions look like?
Voss-Tecklenburg: I’m hoping for all our players to remain fit and healthy, as well as for all the others to come back successfully from their injuries. We will know that we have a really, really great team, that has potential to develop, but at the same time capable of achieving great things. Health is the basis of everything, including performance. Therefore, I wish that not only the players, but also for our coaching team, staff members and everyone who works with the women's national team remain healthy. I hope that they will continue to work alongside us and support us with a lot of joy and energy and that we can all grow as one.
DFB.de: And on a personal note…
Voss-Tecklenburg: Personally, I’m also wishing for good health. I have a large family that is very important to me and means a lot to me. I’m wishing for everyone to remain healthy, and I also wish that, despite the busy schedule in the new year, we can spend a lot of quality time together.